Last Updated: Thursday, April 20, 2017, 6:52 PM EDT
MacDill Air Force Base celebrated the opening of its on-base university facility on Thursday, culminating three years of construction on the $43 million building.
- Joint Special Operations University previously housed off-base
- J-SOU educates 12,000 Special Operations forces each year
- University is only accredited higher learning institution in Dept. of Defense
The Joint Special Operations University, or J-SOU, educates 12,000 Special Operations forces students each year. Commander of Special Operations General Raymond Thomas said that ongoing education is critical to adapt to constantly evolving threats around the globe.
"I can tell you on a daily basis that I can't imagine things getting more frantic," said Thomas. "Every day somebody ramps it up a little bit more. It is critical this institution breed leaders who have the agility to deal with these challenges."
With a curriculum spanning over 67 courses, J-SOU serves around 7,000 students on site, while the other 5,000 access courses online. The campus's classrooms are secured for classified networks and utilize touch screens for war games.
Currently, J-SOU is the only accredited institution of higher learning within the U.S. Department of Defense.
U.S. Representative Kathy Castor spoke during the grand opening ceremony.
"These are the types of skills our Special Ops need," said Castor. "It's not just firing weapons and using drones -- it's that cultural understanding, the language. We want our Special Forces to be educated and understand the threats. They're not static. It's evolving all the time."